FEATURES: With Friends Like This, No One Needs An Enemy

July 14, 2014

Since the dawn of Sunday June 22, when the astonishing result of the June 21 gubernatorial election was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), the media has been saturated with diverse opinions from various arm-chair analysts. Mr Akin Osuntokun’s piece, which appeared on the back-page of Thisday of July 4, 2014 falls into this category. As he stated, he is from Ekiti like myself, and it is expected that we both should have vested interests in the whole affair, though, Mr Osuntokun, a diehard conservative member of the PDP, may have complicated the mind of some readers by describing himself as a friend of Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, the All Progressive Congress, (APC) candidate in the June 21 election whose party was the defending champion, but lost in controversial circumstances, to Mr Ayo Fayose, who barely 11 years ago was removed from office for many criminal offences.

Reading through Mr Osuntokun’s article, you have to wonder if all that Governor Fayemi did in almost four years in office that earned him objective accolades as one of the most reform-minded and performing governors in the country was the construction of a Government House and nothing else. Even if Akin Osuntokun were to limit himself to projects funded from the $25billion bond procured from the capital market by the Fayemi administration, the Government House would not rank as the most prominent.
Mr Osuntokun deliberately closed his eyes to the reconstruction of the Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort which housed his guests during his mother’s funeral, the revival of the 21 year old moribund Bricks Factory in Ire-Ekiti, the completed 12,000 seater Freedom Pavillion in Ado-Ekiti, the completed 300-bed Oba Adejugbe General Hospital and the on-going Funmi Olayinka Memorial Civic Centre projects of the state government.

In his strenuous effort to distort facts and re-write history, he also conveniently forgot the over 700 kilometre network of roads constructed anew or reconstructed across the State – including in his own community of Okemesi Ekiti from the proceeds of the bond. Rather than acknowledge this, the credit must not go to Fayemi who merely completed the road to his community and the water plant since he was not the one who started these projects.

He ought to have also informed his readers that the road to his community which was embarked upon by Governor Niyi Adebayo had seen seven PDP Governors and was still not 50% completed when Governor Fayemi inherited it. The same was the case with the water-treatment plant.

I do not know the last time Mr Osuntokun visited his hometown, he would have seen several other projects in his community courtesy of Governor Fayemi – including the General Hospital, the reconstruction and renovation of all primary and secondary schools in his community, the renewal of his Oba’s palace and the construction of the community Civic Centre.

Not to add the new Police Station and the local government roads in Okemesi. Leaving aside the improved physical infrastructure in his community, the human development index of his people has also significantly improved from what used to obtain in the seven and a half years his party – PDP – was in office in Ekiti. These include but are not limited to the over 150 Okemesi youths employed in the Peace Corps, the Volunteer Corps Scheme, the Ekiti State Traffic Management Authority, (EKSTMA) and the 300 beneficiaries of the social security benefit scheme among Okemesi senior citizens earning N5000.00 monthly. It is interesting that northwards, the road from Ekiti State end after Okemesi to Osogbo was recently completed by the same APC government in Osun State. A state of the art Yoruba War Museum is also in the offing for Okemesi and programmed to employ not less than 300 people. It is important to state here that Okemesi is not alone in the distribution of palpable, tangible development in the State.  Each of the 132 communities in Ekiti can also boast of several of such initiatives in spite of the meager resources available to Ekiti State. Perhaps Osuntokun’s concern therefore is that the new Government House may not carry his father’s name since the current Presidential guest chalet which the Governor currently occupies carries the sobriquet – Oduola Osuntokun House. I urge him to lobby his friend and incoming Governor to name the new Government House after his late father. If this is not the case, how does one explain someone of Osuntokun’s pedigree and education to indulge in unfounded rumours and beer parlour gossips such as his claim in the article that Dr Fayemi removed Governor Segun Oni’s portrait from Governor’s office upon assuming duties as Governor of Ekiti State. This is not true. Anyone who has entered the Governor’s office since October 16, 2010 when Dr Fayemi came into the office would confirm that Governor Oni’s portrait has adorned the Governor’s office alongside other occupants of the office to date.

Since his central argument in his diatribe was the excoriation of Governor Fashola’s challenge to those who are hard-put in explaining why a Government and a Governor that had performed well in office, executing all that he promised to the people – particularly in the areas of social welfare schemes would lose an election if it was free and credible other than to simply trace it to a somewhat nebulous ‘stomach infrastructure’, Osuntokun had to strive incredulously in his futile bid to puncture the performance thesis by simply creating an impression that Dr Fayemi’s government was a government of misplaced priorities which only built a Government House on the Hill and didn’t do anything to affect the lives of Ekiti people.  Not even Fayemi’s worst detractors ever accused him of such. Yet, Mr Osuntokun claims to be Dr Fayemi’s friend.  With friends like Akin Osuntokun, Dr Fayemi needs no enemies.

What is clear is that the evidence on the ground fails to lend any credence to Mr Osuntokun’s claims. If indeed as he said, Dr Fayemi merely completed projects embarked upon by his predecessors in office, is anything wrong with that?  Isn’t that in itself evidence of serious-mindedness continuity in governance? Would he rather Governor Fayemi abandoned the projects by his predecessors that can add value to Ekiti development? Very few governments in Nigeria have ever embarked on the completion of projects left by their predecessors the way Dr Fayemi did. This is no time to begin to talk about his world acclaimed reputation of integrity and transparency and the government he ran for four years on the highest ethical platform. A government that executed every single agenda on its campaign platform is a rarity in Nigeria and as Governor Fayemi contended in his broadcast to Ekiti people – his performance in office will be the reference point upon which subsequent governments will be judged in the State in years to come. Its free education programme, free health for the vulnerable segments of the population, agricultural and rural development schemes, extensive infrastructural development, urban renewal initiatives, social security scheme, community self-help initiatives and tourism development will continue to earn him accolades that can hardly be matched by any PDP government in Nigeria.

For now, the PDP thought it had done its worst and that the lost heritage of Ekiti people would not be redeemed. This is a short-sighted approach to logic and clear thought; it is an assault on any deep sense of history. I am not aware of any landmark achievements of the PDP that its promoters, like Mr Osuntokun think should endear the party to the Nigerian people, not with the comatose economy, the destruction of the essentials of life of Nigerians, the unbridled corruption, the leather-tongued opportunism of its leaders, the brazen assault on human dignity and the criminal insistence and imposition of the party as if it is the best thing Nigerians can dream of.

The worst aspect now is that this scandalous destruction of the basic elements of humanity has now been extended to the electoral abracadabra to the extent that we are gradually becoming a society where the process of free choice by the people is heartlessly manipulated, using all sorts of tactics, including phantom, programmed election materials and setting in motion a society where unethical people will set the moral tone for the commonwealth, and where the dregs will set standards for decency. As a student of history, I do not know of any rogue empire in the world that for too long, was able to sustain such an atrocious reputation and I can assure Mr Osuntokun that the last has not been heard on his party’s electoral heist.  Time and posterity will bear this out.

Whether the like of Mr Osuntokun believes it or not, Dr Fayemi’s place in history will not be determined by their jaundiced, politically coloured blatantly subjective analyses. And thankfully, even for those who write history in a hurry, the overwhelming view of Governor Fayemi’s period at the helm of affairs in Ekiti is not of a leader who did nothing for his people but of a selfless, hardworking, principled, competent, committed and compassionate leader who may have lived ahead of his times, but delivered tangibly the greatest good for the greatest number of his people.

Last modified: July 14, 2014

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